Using Your Actuarial Experience to Start a Business
By Sam Castillo
Innovators & Entrepreneurs, April 2021
It is no longer new to see people pursue their dreams and make their ideas reality. Do you have an idea for a startup? … This article was tailored just for you!
Just Before You Leap … Look and Look Again
While some actuaries believe that you need to save up millions of dollars before being able to start your own business, reality shows that working on a side-hustle on the weekends until it becomes big enough to pay you more than your job does is a more profitable approach. To which category do you belong? In case you haven’t started to think about converting that in-demand skill of yours into a business, now is the best time to start.
Starting your own business requires determination and commitment. You can become an independent consultant and earn 200 percent or more of your basic salary in a few years. Sounds promising, right? My own experience with an actuarial teaching website, as well as conversations with architects, doctors, lawyers, accountants, and other professionals who have started their own practices confirms that this is possible. Below are some things to consider when you take the bold leap.
Know Your Onions
Before you can think of starting your own business, you must have a product or service that you can sell … so that people will want to give you their money. Without a product, you might end up spending all your savings on food, rent, and business cards without bringing in any money and you might even fall into debt. To avoid this, start small. Provide value to people for free by posting on LinkedIn, answering Quora questions, or offering a free e-book. With these initiatives you will find out if people are interested in what you are offering.
It is important to be an expert in your field. Pay for one-on-one coaching, attend classes, and watch tutorial videos. People will pay for your skills when they know they you can deliver results. As an entrepreneur, you will need to learn about sales and marketing, accounting, web design, and hiring employees. Learn what you need as you go.
Are you an actuary with expertise in a certain insurance product? That’s an excellent place to start. You can sell your skill as a freelance consultant on websites like Fiverr or Upwork. Not only will you be exposed to a wide range of clients and projects, but you will also choose your working hours. It feels good to be in control of your own time!
Know What Works for You
Working on projects for different clients might not be your thing; you might prefer being an instructor. You can organize in-person training or virtual training. You can sell your knowledge by creating online courses or by writing a book.
Eventually, you can get rid of the third-party freelancer website and hire people to work for you directly.
It might take months or years to develop a successful business, but taking the first step matters a lot. There is no such thing as “I won’t start until I become the best in my field.” There are innovations every day, there will always be something new to learn or improve on. You don’t need more knowledge. You already know enough.
You Don’t Have to Break the Bank to Start Your Business
You can start with zero capital by registering as a freelancer on free websites or with an investment as low as $500 to $1,000 to build a website. Tell people that you started a business and tell them how you can make money for them. People will always listen to you if you tell them that you will increase their bank account balance or save them time. Once you get your first few clients, everything will start to flow naturally.
It Might get Bumpy Along the Way
Many new business owners are too idealistic and set themselves up for disappointments. You might get lucky and your business may grow non-stop within a few weeks of its launch. In most cases, it will take several months, diversifying, rebranding, and changing your target audience to achieve success. You might encounter difficult clients who always find something wrong with your work, don’t take it to heart—it is part of the growth process.
Plan, Don’t be Sloppy
Do you want to be a credible business owner? Always be on time! Plan your schedules and deliver before the deadline. Ask your clients the necessary questions to make the project a successful one; doing so helps avoid the stress of redoing work that might take several hours or days to complete.
Network, Socialize: Don’t Stay all Cooped up
One of the best ways to meet potential clients is networking. Attend seminars, parties, get-togethers, happy hours, and other events. Are you not a social person? Do you dread meeting people? You are not alone. There are several online platforms where you can meet people and interact at your own pace.
The goal is to put yourself out there and maximize your potential. Meet like-minded business owners and learn a thing or two that can take your business to the next level.
Stay Open-minded: Embrace Criticism and Feedback
Sometimes you may have worked hard and not received impressive feedback. Don’t let this make you lose your shine. Some days will be filled with praise while others with criticism that can make you feel gloomy.
Always make room for feedback and criticism; they help to improve client service. Treat your clients like you treat your boss—because they are your boss!
Stop expecting external factors such as earning an FSA or getting a traditional “actuarial director” job title to make you wealthy. You only have one life. Maximize your career’s expected value and aim to surpass the average salary, given tenure and number of exams passed, reported in the DW Simpson Salary Survey. Take the first step to starting your business today!
Statements of fact and opinions expressed herein are those of the individual author and are not necessarily those of the Society of Actuaries, the editors, or the respective author’s employer.
Sam Castillo is a near-ASA and the founder of ExamPA.net, an online course for learning predictive analytics. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.